On September 4, 1848, a forty-acre tract of land in Newton County, Missouri was sold by Frederick Hisaw to John and Thomas D. Isbell for $300. Upon this land the Isbells built a distillery and grist mill (Jolly Mill), perhaps with slave labor, according to local lore. In the 1840 census, Thomas Isbell owned four slaves, but one family history indicated that his slaves were not skilled at carpentry, so slaves belonging to neighbors were used.
By the 1850 census, John was listed as a “distiller of spirits” and the value of his property was $5,000 (quite an appreciation!). Thomas was nearby living as a farmer with a property value of $1,500. In March of 1852, Thomas and his wife Rebecca sold their portion of the land to John for $2,000, perhaps retaining a small plot for themselves. Thomas died in 1855.
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